The Future of the Gulf: The World Economic Forum Launches Scenarios on the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries

Published May 20th, 2007 - 09:53 GMT

The World Economic Forum today launched its latest regional scenario study which examines three possible futures for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The GCC Countries and the World: Scenarios to 2025, the result of an 18-month research process involving over 300 experts from the Gulf countries and beyond, outlines three scenarios for the development of the GCC region from 2007 to 2025.

The research team led by the World Economic Forum, in partnership with the Economic Development Board of Bahrain, the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi and the Olayan Financing Company in Saudi Arabia, asked two key questions concerning the future of the GCCs:
1. Will leaders in the public and private sector in the GCC countries be able to implement the necessary and relevant economic and political reforms and successfully enforce the rule of law?
2. Will GCC countries be able to maintain internal order and stability, in particular vis-à-vis a complex and uncertain regional situation?

The report ( presents three possible scenarios for the region over the next 20 years: Oasis, Sandstorm and The Fertile Gulf. Oasis describes a scenario where regional stability continues to be a challenge for the GCC countries, but they are nevertheless able to achieve substantial institutional reforms. The GCC countries develop strong identities and work together to coordinate diplomatic and economic policies through technocratic governance and a stronger internal market. Sandstorm describes a future where regional instability is the defining factor affecting the ability of GCC countries to effectively carry out much-needed institutional reforms. This scenario sees a number of conflating factors that make the surrounding region significantly turbulent, including conflict between the US and Iran, and spillover of violence from Iraq. The Fertile Gulf describes the rise of the GCC countries as innovation hubs in a global environment characterized by robust demand for energy and increasing globalization. Regional stability gives the GCC countries the opportunity to focus on enhancing their human capital at all levels, investing heavily in education while proceeding carefully with political and institutional reforms to support their growing economies and societies

“Over the next 20 years the region will continue to draw the world’s attention not just in terms of energy security, but also due to its fast-growing capital markets and innovative cities. The world needs to anticipate what forces may throw the region off track, and what opportunities exist to help the GCC countries and the broader Middle East region exceed our expectations,” noted Nicholas Davis, Global Leadership Fellow and Project Manager at the World Economic Forum.

The scenarios are a result of a multi-stakeholder project involving participants and entities from the private, public and non-governmental spheres. The Economic Development Board of Bahrain and the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi are using the scenarios to generate a common basis of understanding with the private and public sectors in their countries, as well as with foreign investors and other stakeholders, in their work towards a positive scenario for the GCC countries. The Olayan Financing Company is committed to  contributing to the well-being of both the country and the region and is using the scenarios to generate new ways of thinking about the future.

To explore the deeper issues and ramifications of the region’s development, the World Economic Forum will take the results of the GCC Country Scenarios to international audiences at its numerous regional meetings, including the Inaugural Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Dalian, People’s Republic of China, 6-8 September 2007 and the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008 in January in Davos.

The World Economic Forum’s World Scenario Series also includes previously-published scenarios on India, China, Russia, the Digital Ecosystem and Technology and Innovation in Financial Services.

The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests. (


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